Image: 8 year old Kenzie Brown with her Science Project, photo from Josh Brown, Kenzie's Father
We Affect Weather?
Do you ever have the feeling it always seems to rain on the weekends but not on the weekdays? So did 8 year old Kenzie Brown, of Phoenix, Arizona. But Kenzie did more than just curse nature's folly for raining out the playtime but not the worktime. Kenzie put on her junior atmospheric scientist lab coat and went to work.
And guess what? Kenzie proved that, from 1949 through 2009, rainfall on weekends remained steady while rainfall on weekdays has declined. Kenzie's project title "We Affect Weather?" expresses her hypothesis that something people are doing during weekdays in the city causes the decline. Kenzie reached out to Nancy J. Selover, Ph.D., State Climatologist, at Arizona State University for the data to support her project. She had to make important decisions, as scientists always do, to organize her data. She decided to focus only on the monsoon months (July, August, September) each year, and discarded data before 1949 because it was not complete. The data is from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, near the center of Phoenix.
Image: Graph from Kenzie Brown's Report, We Affect Weather?
Kenzie put all of her data in a database, and correlated the rainfall to weekdays and weekends. The graph that results shows a marked decline in weekday rainfall (orange dashed line), while weekend rainfall remained steady (blue dashed line). Kenzie proposes to follow up this project with a similar analysis of rainfall data from the outskirts of Phoenix, to further support her hypothesis that the activities of people in the city causes "storms to have a hard time getting into the center of Phoenix on the weekdays."
We are always excited to see young scientists at work. It sometimes seems that science has become so much more complicated since noticing the position of the sun and stars sufficed to spur scientific revolution. One might wonder if there is still a place for the citizen scientist. But Kenzie's work shows that there are questions all around us, and answers lurking about to be found.
More on Citizen Scientists:
Be a Citizen Scientist for Climate Change
The Big Deal With Citizen Science
Obama Drops In on Kids' Science Fair at the American Museum of Natural History
SciSpy iPhone App Turns Citizen Science Into Neighborhood Adventure Hunt